Holding true to its reputation for tenacity, Elite Motorsports is already hard at work preparing for the 2024 season as they continue pursuing excellence in the competitive world of professional drag racing. The organization may have ended the 2023 season with a myriad of accomplishments including earning its sixth NHRA Pro Stock world championship with the “Winningest Woman In Motorsports” Erica Enders, landing five of the coveted Top Ten positions in the Countdown to the Championship and winning the 2023 NHRA Finals with Aaron Stanfield. But rather than basking in the glow of their recent success, the largest professional team in drag racing is focused on using that positive momentum to propel their organization forward.
With a constant eye on improvement, Elite Motorsports team owner Richard Freeman is amped up about the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing season and it’s only been 22 days since Elite Motorsports turned on the final Pro Stock win light of 2023.
“We have some of the best true partners in motorsports,” said an enthusiastic Freeman. “We’ve worked hard to develop deep relationships and an understanding of each partner’s individual goals and objectives for being involved with our organization. We have a powerful lineup of drivers and the talented individuals outside of the car are equally as strong. To have Jason Johnson and the group at Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage be a major partner in our program and continue to grow their involvement around our team speaks volumes about how our team operates.”
While the team is making some big changes in a few areas, they also know better than to mess with success. Six-time Pro Stock world champion Enders will continue to pilot the Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage / Melling Performance Camaro while her teammate Troy Coughlin Jr. will once again sit behind the wheel of the JEGS / White Castle machine.
Drag racing fan favorite Bo Butner is slated to be one member of a two-car Mountain Motor Pro Stock team starting in 2024 with backing from the NHRA class sponsor, Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage. The other driver will be named at a later date. Two-time NHRA world champion, 27-time NHRA national event winner, four-time divisional champion and bracket racing standout Butner will also transition to the role of Director of Team Development for Elite Motorsports. The Elite Mountain Motor Pro Stock team will make their first runs soon and if all goes well, they will be a two-car threat to win at every event.
“This new position will help foster new talent in and out of the car. Having won NHRA events in 6 different categories and numerous bracket races Bo is a perfect fit to help and head up this effort. We are in this for the long haul,” said Freeman.
“I am looking forward to racing the Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars in 2024. I know we will have a great time,” said Butner. “Helping with team development at Elite Motorsports is going to be a fun project to help ensure long-term success in and out of the race cars.”
“I’m very excited to further extend our partnership and relationship with Elite Motorsports,” said Jason Johnson, the owner of Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage. “I am looking forward to watching the new Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars and think Bo’s new role with Elite will help the growth and support of all its teams.”
Aaron Stanfield will drive the second Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage NHRA Pro Stock entry starting in 2024. This effort will continue to have support from longtime supporters Janac Brothers Racing and JC3 Energy Services. In addition, Melling has grown their involvement with Stanfield throughout the Countdown to the Championship to an associate level for the coming season.
“To say this has been a crazy couple of days would be an understatement,” said Stanfield. “From winning Pro Stock at the NHRA Finals, my wife having our second baby to now driving a Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage car with the support of Melling and my longtime sponsors Janac Brothers Racing and JC3 Energy Service seems more like a dream than reality.”
“I have paid close attention to all the competitors the last few seasons, and Aaron is definitely a premier driver,” said Johnson. “He is all business at the track and JHG is looking forward to being there for all his future successes!”
Melling Performance and Melling Engine Parts have been involved with Enders for a number of years and will continue to support her through all of her endeavors with Elite. This relationship has grown within the team at Elite Motorsports to include the Melling brands in a more comprehensive manner across the entire Elite fleet of powerful race cars.
“What a blessing it’s been to ride with Erica the past seven seasons,” said Mark Melling, CEO of Melling Engine Parts. “We really enjoyed our involvement with Aaron last year as well. We look forward to 2024 with fingers crossed there will be a fifth championship in pro stock with Melling’s involvement!”
In one of the most highly anticipated additions for the 2024 season, drag racing veteran and legend Jeg Coughlin Jr. will return to Pro Stock full-time in an exciting partnership with SCAG Power Equipment and their over 1,500-strong dealer network.
“We couldn’t be more pleased to have Jeg Coughlin Jr. return to the seat of a Pro Stock car at Elite Motorsports,” said Freeman. “SCAG Power Equipment came on board for the last two events of the 2023 NHRA season to put Jeg behind the wheel of Erica’s new car to break it in during real competition. SCAG Power Equipment is another of our partners that share the same values we share. Jeg is a great fit for SCAG and seeing him interact with dealers in Vegas at and away from the track only proved what a great ambassador to a brand he can be. In addition, Outlaw Mile Hi Light Beer will also play a major role in his return.”
“We have been proud of our association with Elite Motorsports,” said Randy Gloede, President/CEO of Metalcraft of Mayville, the parent company of SCAG Power Equipment. “Erica has done great at giving our dealer partners an experience that they will never forget. We are now excited to also partner with Jeg to enhance our dealer and SCAG Power Equipment user group’s experience.”
“Being back behind the wheel at the Tulsa test and the Vegas and Pomona races these past couple weeks was extremely enjoyable,” Jeg stated. “The feel and acceleration of the car, working with team Elite drivers and crew, and working with our great partners, namely SCAG, surpassed my expectations and solidified in my mind that I wanted to make a run for future Pro Stock championships. I really look forward to working with the team at SCAG Power Equipment to learn and help grow the relations with their dealer network and end users. The car looks great and I couldn’t be more proud to transition to the famous and very visible SCAG ‘Cats Eye Gold’ in 2024.”
2023 Rookie of the Year nominee Jerry Tucker will return to the team in 2024 with continued support from Outlaw Mile Hi Light Beer. Tucker, of Lindsay, Okla., has spent the last 30 years racing everything from Sprint cars to Midgets and has also enjoyed success in drag racing. Tucker previously raced in the Top Sportsman class before joining the Pro Stock class for the 2023 season.
“I’m excited to return in 2024 and pick up where we left off,” said Tucker. “I learned a lot during my rookie year and I now have the confidence that can only be gained by getting close to 100 laps under my belt. This season we are going to ramp up the intensity across the board. Having Outlaw Mile Hi Light Beer on the car for a full season is going to be clean, crisp and crushable.”
The Cuadra family is excited to return in 2024 with support from Corral Boots and Cuadra brands for a four-car effort in NHRA’s most competitive professional class. Fernando Cuadra Sr. and his three boys Fernando Jr., Cristian and David are all looking forward to competing in 2024. In addition, the Corral Boots / Cuadra pop-up experience was at the final three NHRA national events in 2023. This unit serves as a mobile retail and marketing display using a 53″ custom trailer that was designed by Elite Motorsports.
“Working with Fernando Sr., his boys and everyone back in Leon, Mexico has been great,” stated Freeman. “Racing as a family is what it’s all about and we have seen tremendous growth in the on-track performance. There are plenty of wins on the horizon for this talented family of drivers. Working with Corral Boots and Cuadra on the business side has been very rewarding and we are looking forward to a full tour of events for the mobile pop-up experience in 2024.”
“I am really excited about next season. I feel confident with my race car and my team,” explained Cristian Cuadra. “Everything is moving in the right direction. The way all of the Elite guys are supporting me makes me feel like I’m already a champion. I can’t wait for 2024.”
“I am very excited for this upcoming season,” noted David Cuadra. “Winning my first race in Top Sportsman and making history in 2023 made me motivated and confident. I am ready to turn on lots of win lights in both Top Sportsman and Pro Stock next season. Being part of Elite Motorsports has helped me so much in every aspect of my racing career and I am very happy to be racing with them again.”
With a longstanding reputation for excellence in the drag racing community, CTech Manufacturing will have a more visible and engaged role in the Elite Motorsports program. Beginning in 2024, CTech Manufacturing will become the Official Tool Storage Provider for Elite Motorsports.
“We’re incredibly proud to have CTech Manufacturing named the Official Tool Storage Provider of Elite Motorsports heading into the 2024 racing season,” said Mike Greenheck, Vice President of CTech Manufacturing. “As a longtime supporter, it’s a pleasure to see the team continue to succeed at the highest level of NHRA competition. We are confident CTech’s aluminum cabinets, carts and drawers will keep the teams efficient and organized between rounds, helping them focus on what they do best: winning.”
Since coming on board at Elite Motorsports LLC. in July of 2022, Scott “Woody” Woodruff, the Director of Branding and Motorsports, has been quietly working behind the scenes with partners on team involvement throughout the entire racing program.
“We have great support from our partners and that support has been growing in tandem with our success,” explained Woodruff. “Partners like Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage, SCAG Power Equipment, Melling, JEGS, C-Tech Manufacturing, Gallagher Global and Outlaw Mile Hi Light Beer are partners you will see in a bigger way throughout our program in 2024 and beyond. We have team partners like CHE Precision, High Performance Lubricants, Comp Cams, TMS Titanium, NGK Spark Plugs, Mac Tools, Under Armour, BENMIT Tubular, CFE Racing Products, Cometic Gaskets and CP-Carrilo that you will see on every car and transporter. Having the number of cars that we have ensures these partners are having winning moments on and off the track. We also have partners like White Castle, Janac Brothers Racing, JC3 Energy Service, Crown Group and CBR Air that are driver-specific. It’s all about listening to your partners and coming up with solutions that work for them. We make sure as a group it’s a win for all.”
In addition to competing at all 20 events in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series, the Elite Motorsports team will also participate in the inaugural PRO Superstar Shootout in Bradenton, Fla., February 8-10 as well as a match race at the NHRA Open, scheduled to take place August 8-11 at Rock Falls Raceway in Eau Claire, Wis.